John Lucas, who missed an earlier game in Philadelphia because of what he later admitted was a problem with cocaine, failed to show up for the Bullets' game last night with the 76ers.
Lucas did not get to Capital Centre yesterday morning in time for the trip to Philadelphia. Efforts to contact him during the day were unsuccessful, and late last night Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry and Lucas' wife Debbie expressed concern over Lucas' safety.
"I just hope he's alive," Ferry said. "I don't know where he is. There is no explanation. He's a missing person. We haven't even thought anything about fines or anything like that because we just don't know where he is. If he doesn't appear tomorrow, we'll have to contact the police. I just hope he's all right."
When Mrs. Lucas was contacted at 4 p.m. yesterday she said Lucas would take a 5:15 flight to Philadelphia, but when contacted late last night she said she had no idea where Lucas was.
"The last time I talked to him was 2:15," she said. "He left the house this morning to make the bus and I don't know why he missed it. He called me from someplace at 2:15 and said he was going to take a flight there. Right now I'm very worried, but I can't do anything until I talk to him. All I can do is wait and hope he's all right."
"Luke won't show up, I'm sure of it," a disgusted Coach Gene Shue said an hour before the 7:30 p.m. game. "I don't know what's wrong with him, but I can't believe anything he tells me anymore."
Don Collins missed the bus here, but arrived in time to come to the arena with his teammates. He and Lucas will be automatically fined $100 for missing the bus trip from Washington, but Ferry said he hasn't considered any other disciplinary action against Lucas, "because I just don't know what's going on. The most important thing is to find him and then we'll decide what to do."
After missing several practices, two flights and the game in Philadelphia against the 76ers Jan. 6, Lucas told The Washington Post that he had been using cocaine. "This is the second time John has missed a game in Philadelphia, so I would think that there's something about going there that is wrong," Ferry said. "I don't know what it could be though.
Lucas was called in front of NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien in New York and, in effect, told that he was on probation.
Since that time, the 6-foot-4 guard had earned his starting job back from rookie Frank Johnson and played particularly well in a recent stretch when the Bullets increased their scoring pace.
Several people close to Lucas were concerned about him late last night because he was so discouraged about his lack of playing time.
"He's never been lower," one player said. "He's really down now and I don't blame him. He's been playing well, but Gene doesn't have any patience with him."